Back in 2017, energy drink sales seemed tired. The category experienced only a 2.1% increase in dollar sales and a 1.8% increase in unit sales that year, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 3, 2017.

But 2018 breathed new life into the category, with a 7.5% increase in dollar sales (to $12.2 billion) and a 7.0% rise in unit sales (to 4.5 billion), according to IRI’s data for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 2, 2018.

Per “Energy Drinks US, May 2018” from global market research firm Mintel, energy drinks are expected to see growth of 4% to 5% through 2022. Yet, there are some challenges ahead, including the struggling energy shot subset.


Growth for non-aseptic drinks, mixes

Despite relatively stagnant sales in 2017, shelf-stable non-aseptic energy drinks are yet again on the rise. The category saw an 8.2% improvement in dollar sales to $11.0 billion and a 7.5% rise in unit sales to 4.2 billion.

Among the top 10 brands, seven posted positive gains in sales. Red Bull Yellow Edition (Red Bull North America) led the group with a 16.6% increase in dollar sales and a 17.5% climb in unit sales. Monster Energy Zero Ultra (Monster Energy Co.) had a 13.9% improvement in dollar sales and a 12.7% rise in unit sales. Red Bull Blue Edition was another brand success for Red Bull North America. Its dollar sales improved 11.8%, and its unit sales jumped 12.7%.

However, some of the top shelf-stable non-aseptic brands struggled. Rockstar’s (Rockstar Inc.) dollar and unit sales tumbled 8.1% and 9.1%, respectively. Monster Mega Energy (Monster Energy Co.) also saw a decline: 2.5% in dollar sales and 4.2% in unit sales. Another Monster Energy Co. product, Lo-carb Monster Energy, saw a 2.4% drop in dollar sales, and unit sales fell 3.4%.

Energy mixes are a small but increasingly mighty segment of the overall energy drink category. Though they represent only $104.6 million in dollar sales, energy mixes grew more dramatically than any other subcategory, with an 18.8% rise in dollar sales and a 21.8% jump in unit sales.


Energy shots shoot downward

Regardless of positive results elsewhere in the energy drinks category, energy shots continue to decline. The subset fell 0.7% in dollar sales (to $1.1 billion) and 0.6% in unit sales (to 315.8 million).

There were a few bright spots among the top 10 energy shot brands. The Eternal Energy Premium energy shot brand (Eternal Energy) grew 27.8% in dollar sales and 21.0% in unit sales. Tweaker Energy Shot (Tweaker Energy Drink) gained 9.9% in dollar sales and 10.7% in unit sales. Stacker 2 Extra Strength Extreme energy shots also improved, climbing 6.1% in dollar sales and 6.2% in unit sales.

It was another story for many of the other top 10 energy shot brands. Stacker2 energy shots (NVE Pharmaceuticals) saw the largest decline: 18.6% in dollar sales and 20.6% in unit sales. Another NVE Pharmaceuticals product, Stacker2 Extreme energy shots, fell 8.2% in dollar sales and 12.3% in unit sales. Rip It Energy Fuel (Sundance Beverage Co.) also struggled, with a 5.0% loss in both dollar and unit sales.